Two gubernatorial contenders warn that children will be the collateral damage of this Republican plan.
After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signaled his support of a plan that would strip $200 million from schools that opted to implement mask requirements to protect kids and teachers from COVID-19, two state Democrats have called the Republican incumbent’s action “a political tantrum.”
“That’s how much DeSantis cares about Florida students—not only did he implement a rule forbidding schools from taking basic actions to keep them safe from COVID, but now he’s defunding the schools who dared defy him by putting children’s safety first,” state Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried said in a statement, adding that “for DeSantis to deliberately hurt children because he wants to throw a political tantrum, is beyond belief.”
This comes after press secretary Christina Pushaw announced that following discussions with state Rep. Randy Fine, who proposes the budget measure, DeSantis is on board with the plan to withhold funds from 12 school districts that required masks because of the pandemic. Pushaw also added that DeSantis still supports the idea of the parental right to sue if they believe school mask requirements harmed their children.
Fried, who is running to unseat DeSantis in November, wrote a letter asking US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to prevent DeSantis from defunding schools as a penalty “for not endangering children during the pandemic.”
In her letter, Fried added that withholding state funds could be illegal under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and urged Cardona to investigate “this nefarious and disgraceful act.”
US Rep. Charlie Crist, who is also running for governor in November, called DeSantis’ position on defunding schools “absolutely unconscionable.”
Crist added that under DeSantis, “our children’s education will be the collateral damage if this is allowed to stand.”